Few bands have challenged the expectations of their fans quite so regularly as Pain Of Salvation. From the impenetrable conceptual labyrinth of BE to the startling nu-metal crunch of Scarsick and on to the analogue riff rock of their last few albums, the Swedes have somehow managed to avoid alienating their core audience, perhaps because even their wildest flights of fancy have paid great creative dividends. Still, the decision to revisit what was both their breakthrough release and a cherished fan favourite seems like a curious one at this point.
Remedy Lane was a huge album for Daniel Gildenlöw’s crew: it enabled them to tour with Dream Theater and propelled them to somewhere close to the top of the prog metal ladder along the way. 14 years on from its original release, it doesn’t particularly seem like an album that required any revisions, and yet, in typically casual and classy fashion, Remedy Lane Re:visited once again proclaims Pain Of Salvation to be a band that simply don’t have shit ideas.
Sounds bigger, bolder and more vivid than before.
The fine details of what Gildenlöw has changed, with help from engineer Jens Bogren (Opeth/Katatonia), are probably best left to the scrutiny of the band’s most rabid fans, but it’s undeniable that everything here sounds bigger, bolder, more vivid and more sonically spacious than before. Overt prog-outs like Fandango and Dryad Of The Woods are punchier and brighter in ambient hue and, as a result, sound thoroughly contemporary. Sweeter, more mellow fare like Undertow and the exquisite Second Love, Pain Of Salvation’s joyous concession to AOR balladry, exert a far greater emotional pull than they did first time round, Gildenlöw’s semi-autobiographical lyrics fizzing with pathos in the sonic foreground. Best of all, the closing Beyond The Pale sounds absolutely vast, post-remix. Not so much an act of subtle embellishments and tweaks, Remedy Lane Re:visited feels more like a wholesale re-record, as if these songs were always meant to emerge in 2016, fully formed and highly pertinent.
The live version of Remedy Lane, recorded at Prog Power USA in 2014, is a substantial bonus and a neat way to keep diehard fans happy as they adjust to the new studio incarnation of a hallowed work. The only caveat is that the band concerned sound entirely unlike the one that released Road Salt One and Two, and the acoustic Falling Home from two years ago. Will the real Pain Of Salvation please stand up? Or is constant transformation part of the deal?Wherever the truth lies, it’s hard not to wish that more bands were this unpredictable.